I’ve read this piece before, and I always find it so interesting. It’s amazing to read this, especially in light of the current situation in Baltimore and previous ones as well.
King discusses how people “express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws” (581), especially after they follow the Supreme Court’s desegregation law, but not others. People were concerned that he would break some laws and not others, which he says is a legitimate concern, but he argues that there are two different types of laws: just laws, and unjust laws. He also quotes Saint Augustine when she says, “An unjust law is no law at all” (581). Basically, he wants to expose unjust laws. He argues that they’re really not picking and choosing laws, but that they’re basically saying the entire process is illegitimate.
So, how does King try to change public opinion regarding the cause of civil rights? First, he used the Cold War as an example when he mentions the Hungarian Freedom Fighters. We wouldn’t say the Hungarians were breaking the law (although technically, they were) because we saw the Soviet law as unjust. He also mentions WWII and Hitler, which I think is one of his strongest arguments, by saying, “It was illegal to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. But I am sure that, if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal” (582).
King was nonviolent, so I really thought his approach to “create a tension was interesting. He wanted essentially to create a conflict because it a) gets attention, and b) forces people to confront contradictions. He wanted to keep in nonviolent, but wanted people to really think about things. There was a big injustice and people needed to be forced to confront it.